Critics’ Picks: The 20 Best Films from Sundance 2018

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'American Animals,' 'Blaze' and 'Come Sunday'

Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter on January 27, 2017. It is unattributed.

A timely drama about sexual abuse, a bittersweet comedy about a couple’s fertility struggle, Gus Van Sant’s return to form, docs about Jane Fonda and Mr. Rogers, and a Danish shocker were among THR critics’ faves from the fest (in alphabetical order).

American Animals

One of the most far-fetched crimes of the 21st century — an art theft from a Kentucky college library — is dazzlingly recounted in this thriller from Brit Bart Layton. While bowing to stalwarts like Michael Mann, Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, Layton employs his own bag of tricks to craft a tale both engrossing and grotesque. The young actors, including Barry Keoghan and Blake Jenner, deliver with bristling, edgy work. — Todd McCarthy


A deeply felt eulogy for an underexposed Texas songwriter, Ethan Hawke’s lovely biopic will be the first intro most have to Blaze Foley. A contemporary of Willie Nelson, Foley was troubled, but Hawke goes in search of his tender side and finds it — thanks in large part to a charismatic lead turn by musician Ben Dickey. Alia Shawkat is wonderful as Foley’s romantic partner, Sybil Rosen. — John DeFore …

The Hollywood Reporter 1/27

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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